Your parents probably mean the world to you, and you are concerned about their future. Will they be able to successfully live alone even as they age? What will happen when they are no longer able to drive, no longer able to maintain the house, or remember to take their medication? Chances are that these and other concerns about their safety have led you to question whether or not it’s time to talk with your parents about senior living.
The conversation about considering senior living options may not be an easy one as many seniors may believe in old stereotypes of senior living communities and they may dislike the idea of “giving up” their independence. This conversation is a sensitive one so it’s best to enter the conversation prepared.
Here are 5 tips for having a conversation with your aging parents about moving to senior living:
1. Prepare for the conversation with education
If your parents are open to hearing about senior living, they will probably have a lot of questions about cost, living options, downsizing, and many other concerns. Not having answers to their questions can be a missed opportunity to help your parents become more familiar and comfortable with the concept of senior living.
Prepare yourself by reading about senior living options, communities near you, costs of senior living, and the services they offer. You may explore resources such as the AARP, a non-profit educating seniors on healthy living, to ground yourself in all of the exciting possibilities and health benefits senior living brings.
Many seniors have made the move to senior living: According to the National Center for Assisted Living, “around one million Americans live in some type of senior living community, and that number is expected to double by 2030.” Don’t hesitate to contact communities nearby, such as Oakmont Senior Living, for valuable information from experts on the benefits of senior living and their specific recommendations for your parents.
2. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes
Come into the conversation from a place of empathy. Even though you may clearly see the need for senior living care because of your parents’ struggles with hygiene, decreased housekeeping, poor driving, irregular medications, increased falls, forgetfulness, or low moods, your parents may refuse to see the concerns.
Often, seniors do not acknowledge these concerns because they signal the reality of their own aging. Instead of listing all of the things that you see as “wrong” or unsafe, try asking them open-ended questions such as the following:
How is your health lately?
What kind of help do you foresee needing in the future?
What would be the ideal living situation as you get older?
How can I provide the best type of care for you?
What are some precautions you want me to put in place as you get older?
Aging parents may appreciate you broaching this conversation, as communicating what they want and ensuring a plan is in place will provide peace of mind.
Your parents may be reluctant to start the conversation as the concerns of living options, downsizing, and costs may feel overwhelming, and they may also be facing ill health or low moods. It’s pivotal to place yourself in your parents’ shoes. Use positive words and a gentle tone of voice, and listen intently.
3. Allow for plenty of uninterrupted time and be aware that this conversation will be ongoing
Make sure the conversation takes place in a private location with plenty of uninterrupted time. Your parents may feel caught off-guard and unprepared to have this conversation.
To help keep an open mind, use empathy, listen to their concerns and wishes, and stress that this is a decision ultimately made by them. Your parents do not wish to lose their decision-making autonomy nor feel like their children are feeling sorry for them and will stop visiting. Use language such as the following:
The decision is yours. I want to help you consider all of your options.
I want you to be healthy for as long as possible so we can spend quality time together.
I want to hear your concerns about the future, and how we can prepare ahead of time.
Stressing that this is a discussion will help your parents feel unpressured. Present the benefits of senior living from a place of concern and love. Moving to senior living means an increased quality of life and renewed health.
They will have 24/7 care available, daily living activities taken care of by expert team members, opportunities to meet new friends, a convenient chauffeur, delicious meals, and daily fun events.
4. Include family in the conversation and don’t wait too long.
Be sure to include key family members, such as siblings, into the conversation. A brother may be more aware of a parent’s falls due to his frequent drives to the hospital. A sister may be more aware of a parents’ decreased cooking habits, as she frequently drops off meals.
Gathering as many key family members as possible will reduce friction and ensure that every voice is heard and that this is a family decision made with the whole picture in mind. Be sure to not wait too long to have the conversation. Having the talk before your parents’ health deteriorates or an emergency takes place ensures you will be prepared to carry out your parents’ care wishes promptly.
You can establish financial matters of who will pay for the cost, the role of family members, and care procedures ahead of time so both you and your parents can enjoy peace of mind.
5. Follow up after the conversation and let them have a feel for what senior living is like.
The conversation about senior living options will be an ongoing one. It may be easy to feel like not much progress is being made, but each conversation is progress. Your parents will have ample time between each conversation to consider their desires for the next stage in their lives.
You can be seen as a helpful resource and an easy confidante as they ponder what they want for their future. Help them get excited by the possibilities–bring them to tour different senior living communities nearby so they can see the multitude of options offered for suiting their unique tastes.
Present senior living as an adventure. Your parents may feel a sense of loss of normalcy, but the joys of senior living outweigh the tough transition period. Invite friends who have moved to senior living communities to share their experiences. Join one of Oakmont’s many excursions to the philharmonic or theater, or speak with our resident ambassador at one of our many wellness events. There are so many ways for seniors to experience the joys that living at Oakmont Senior Living brings.
Speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today. We provide retirement living, assisted living, and memory care communities suited to the different needs of seniors. We take care of your loved one, so they can live the retirement lifestyle they’ve always wanted–active, engaging, and vibrant. Find a community near you and contact us today!